This has been long predicted, but perhaps is coming at a time when the country is suffering is already from a number of crises, but our industry is now being warned that certain glass products are about to start running out from the New Year.
Glass shortages in Q1
The supply chain is now finally beginning to break down. Many of us have been predicting we would hit a pinch point before long, and that demand at such high levels, combined with the strains of a pandemic and the lack of a trade deal with the EU will eventually lead to shortages. We appear to be at this point as two major manufacturers issue warnings about a lack of certain glass products until at least March of 2021. The delays are due to start in January. Thats the entire of Q1 of next year.
This is part of an update Ultraframe issued on Friday:
Due to supply chain issues outside of our control, some glazing options will be unavailable between January and March 2021.
During this time all Tier 3 and Tier 4 glazing options will be temporarily unavailable. The glazing options this applies to are:
Conservaglass Ultimate Blue
No issues with availability or supply are anticipated on all Tier 1 and Tier 2 glazing and this will remain available throughout this period.
This is part of the update Clayton Glass issued today (Monday 21st December):
We need to inform you of an upcoming supply shortage.
One of the Pilkington products which is key to our roof portfolio, premium blue glass, is expected to be out of stock from January for a significant period, potentially until the end of March. Saint-Gobain haven’t got availability of their equivalent and AGC have in effect delisted theirs.
The products this glass is used in are:
· Celsius Elite
· Celsius One
· Ultra 86
We have a number of packs in stock now and will need to retain some of these for remedial work, however from mid-January we expect to have to temporarily cease offering these brand variants.
All other products remain available and are unchanged.
Installers will now be looking ahead at their fitting schedules to understand the impact these shortages are going to have on their orders and fitting schedules. Even short delays whilst installer seek to move their clients to other products may well cause disruption to fitting schedules. At a time when many have at least three months of work booked in advance, any delays will be unwelcome.
Crucially, these delays stem from the stop of the supply chain. This is not the fault of Ultraframe or Clayton Glass. If they cannot get the product from their own suppliers there is very little they can do but to offer alternatives and give updates as to when they hope they might be able to start selling the product again.
More shortages to come?
In the weeks up to the end of the year, we have been warned about shortages of glass, hardware, resin, and basically anything that goes into making a window. Our industry has had to deal with an unusually high number of major problems all at the same time.
We’re dealing with a pandemic that now appears to be getting worse by the day. Self-isolation policies since the start have meant that companies have been at the mercy of delays due to shortages of staff because of self-isolation. Demand this year has been way higher than expected and caught many on the back foot. Production capacity reached maximum levels and any leftover Brexit stockpiles have been burned through. Stockpiling has been difficult as demand has meant we have ripped through whatever product we have. There is now almost zero chance of a trade deal with the EU before the end of the year which will compound matters. Throw in a global shipping industry that cannot meet intense demand, a new virus strain that has shut the UK off from over 40 countries and you have pretty much the worst combination of circumstances in which to import or export.
Unfortunately, from the warnings being sounded inside our sector, it does appear that we can expect more products shortages in the weeks to come. There is high uncertainty across the board due to a variety of reasons and leftover high demand from 2020 as installers have months and months of work booked ahead of time. Now with border issues even before the UK leaves the transition period with the EU and a brand new national lockdown being urged by those advising the Government, Q1 in 2021 looks set to be severely disrupted.
For installers, now is the time to plan and to reaffirm product supply. Despite Christmas on the horizon, forward planning now to understand any kind of delays that may greet you in the New Year could save countless hours of work in the early days of January. It has been proven in this pandemic that those who plan earliest and do the hard yards now benefit more in the months to come.
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